Usermaatre Setepenamun Osorkon III Si-Ese was Pharaoh of Egypt in the 8th Century BC. He is the same person as the Crown Prince and High Priest of Amun Osorkon B, son of Takelot II by his Great Royal Wife Karomama II. Prince Osorkon B is best attested by his Chronicle—which consists of a series of texts documenting his activities at Thebes—on the Bubastite Portal at Karnak. He later reigned as king Osorkon III in Upper Egypt for twenty-eight years after defeating the rival forces of Pedubast I/Shoshenq VI who had apparently resisted the authority of his father here. Osorkon ruled the last five years of his reign in coregency with his son, Takelot III, according to Karnak Nile Level Text No. 13. Osorkon III's formal titulary was long and elaborate: Usermaatre Setepenamun, Osorkon Si-Ese Meryamun, Netjer-Heqa-waset.
Osorkon III's precise accession date is unknown. Various Egyptologists have suggested it may have been from around the mid-790s BC to as late as 787 BC. The issue is complicated by the fact that Prince Osorkon B did not immediately declare himself king after his successful conquest of Thebes and defeat of Shoshenq VI. This is evidenced by the fact that he dated this seminal event to Year 39 of Shoshenq III rather than Year 1 of his reign. Osorkon III may, therefore, have waited for a minimum of one or two years before proclaiming himself as a Pharaoh of the Theban-based 23rd Dynasty. Osorkon may also have been motivated to defeat or pacify any remaining supporters of the Pedubast I/Shoshenq VI rival faction in other regions of Upper Egypt whether they were in Elephantine, the Western Desert Oasis region—where Pedubast I is monumentally attested—or elsewhere in order to consolidate his position. Hence, Year 1 of Osorkon III is likely equivalent to Year 1 or Year 2 of Shoshenq IV instead, rather than Year 39 of Shoshenq III.
Osorkon III is attested by numerous impressive donation stelae and stone blocks from Herakleopolis Magna through to Thebes. He is generally thought to have been a contemporary of the Lower Egyptian 22nd Dynasty kings, Shoshenq IV, Pami, and the first decade of Shoshenq V's reign. Osorkon III's chief wife was Queen Karoadjet but his second wife was named Tentsai. A stela of Prince Osorkon B calls his spouse Tent[...] with part of the name being lost. The latter name can be rendered as either Tentsai or Tentamun. Significantly, however, both men have a daughter called Shepenupet.
Secondly, according to Ōhshiro Michinori, Anthony Leahy, and Karl Jansen-Winkeln, an important donation stela discovered in 1982 at Ṭihnā al-Ǧabal (ancient Akoris) reveals that Osorkon III was once a High Priest of Amun in his own right. The document explicitly calls Osorkon III, the High Priest of Amun. Osorkon III, thus, was almost certainly the High Priest Osorkon B, who defeated his father's opponents at Thebes in Year 39 of Shoshenq III, as Leahy notes. The identification of HPA Osorkon with King Osorkon III was first proposed by David Rohl and Peter James in 1982 where they state the following:
|“||The chronicle of the High Priest of Amun (HPA) – Prince Osorkon states that he served King Takelot II from the latter’s Year 11 to 25 and then under King Shoshenk III from Year 22 to Year 39. The conventional chronology interposes 21 years between these two periods of office, on the assumption that Takelot II and Shoshenk III reigned consecutively, and is forced to postulate that HPA Osorkon lost his hold over the Thebaid and ‘disappeared from the scene’ in the intervening years. We, however, contend that Year 22 of Shoshenk shortly followed the death of Takelot in his 25th year as the inscription logically suggests. This would mean that Shoshenk III began his reign in Busiris sometime during the 4th year of Takelot II. (…) In the conventional chronology it would have been highly unlikely for HPA Prince Osorkon to have eventually attained the throne as Osorkon III, since he would have been at least 73 years old (assuming a minimum age of 20 years when he became High Priest, plus 14 years under Takelot, plus 39 years under Shoshenk). Adding to this the 28 regnal years of Osorkon III, he would have died at the ripe of age of 101! By eradicating the erroneous 21 years of so-called ‘exile’, his identification with Osorkon III, dying at the age of 80, becomes eminently more feasible. This is strongly supported by another piece of evidence – Prince Osorkon’s mother was Karomama Merytmut, whilst Osorkon III gave his mother’s name as Kamama Merytmut.||”|
This theory has now been accepted by many Egyptologists, including Jürgen von Beckerath, Karl Jansen-Winkeln, Gerard Broekman, and Aidan Dodson, among others, with the notable exception of Kenneth Kitchen. Aidan Dodson and Dyan Hilton sum up the evidence by noting:
That Osorkon B is the same person as King Osorkon III is indicated by the fact that the former's last appearance as High Priest of Amun seems to directly precede Osorkon III's assumption of the throne, reinforcing a stela from Tehna which mentions the latter with the additional title of High Priest—an unusual occurrence.
Osorkon probably lived into his eighties, which explains why he appointed his son Takelot III as the junior coregent to the throne in his final years. He would have been in failing health by this time. Osorkon III's coregency with Takelot III is the last attested royal coregency in ancient Egyptian history. Later dynasties from Nubia, Sais, and Persia all ruled Egypt with a single king on the throne.
Karnak Nile Level Texts No. 6 and 7, dated to Year 5 and 6 of Osorkon III, calls his mother the "Chief Queen Kamama Merymut." Similarly, Prince Osorkon B's mother was identified as Queen Ka<ra>mama Merymut II, wife of Takelot II. The slightly different renderings of this Queen's name almost certainly refers to the same person here: Osorkon B/III.
According to Kenneth Kitchen, Osorkon III's chief consort, Queen Karoadjet, was the mother of Shepenupet I, the God's Wife and Divine Adoratrice of Amun, while his lesser wife Tentsai was the mother of Osorkon III's two sons: Takelot III and Rudamun. Shepenupet I outlived both her half-brothers as the serving God's Wife of Amun at Thebes and survived into the reign of the Nubian ruler, Shebitku, where she is depicted on the small temple Osiris-Heqa-djet in the Amun precinct of Karnak, which was partially decorated by this king.
- Caminos 1958.
- von Beckerath 1966:50.
- von Beckerath 1999:194, 195.
- Kitchen :§ 448.
- Ōhshiro 1999.
- Leahy 1990:192.
- Jansen-Winkeln 1995:138
- The Paleological Association of Japan inc. (Egyptian Committee) 1995:301–305, plate 116.
- Rohl D. & James P.: 'An Alternative to the Velikovskian Chronology for Ancient Egypt' in SIS Workshop, vol. 5, no. 2, 1982/83, point 8.
- von Beckerath 1995.
- Jansen-Winkeln 1995.
- Broekman 2002:174.
- Kitchen , § BB.
- Dodson & Hilton 2004:226.
- von Beckerath 1966:49.
- Kitchen :§ 74.
- Kitchen :§ 290.
- Kitchen :§ 309.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Osorkon III.|
- Caminos, Ricardo Augusto (1958). The Chronicle of Prince Osorkon. Roma: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum.
- von Beckerath, Jürgen (1966). "The Nile Record Level Records at Karnak and Their Importance for the History of the Libyan Period (Dynasties XXII and XXIII)". Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. 5: 43–55. doi:10.2307/40000171.
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